Millions to Lose Coverage Under Republican Health Bill, CBO Says

Changes made to a Republican health-care bill will result in a weakened insurance market where the coverage people get will in many cases be less generous than what they have now, according to the Congressional Budget Office.The bill, known as the American Health Care Act, will cut the deficit by $119 billion, $32 billion less than an earlier version of the legislation, potentially setting aside some concerns that the bill might be sent back to the House for a revote after passing the chamber earlier this month. The CBO released a new estimate of the bill on Wednesday.The GOP legislation will still increase the number of uninsured by millions: 23 million people will lose their coverage under the revised GOP bill, about 1 million less than a prior version, according to CBO's projection.However, the coverage they get under the GOP law will be less comprehensive than they have now. In some cases, people would use tax credits under the law to buy plans that don't cover major medical risks.Changes to the bill will also destabilize insurance markets for about a sixth of the U.S. population. That's because under additions to the law made before the House passed it earlier this month, states will be able use waivers to change insurance rules, freeing plans to charge sick people more and eliminate certain benefits. That could lead to healthy people buying cheap policies while sicker people either can't find affordable coverage or are shunted into more expensive plans."Eventually, CBO and JCT estimate, those premiums would be so high in some areas that the plans would have no enrollment," the CBO said. The JCT is the Joint Committee on Taxation, which analyzed some revenue provisions in the bill.Republican senators have said they'll set aside the House's bill and work on their own repeal-and-replace effort, but the CBO score still holds importance for their work. The Senate bill can't spend more money than the House one, constraining efforts by some Republicans to bolster spending on Medicaid or on subsidies to help older people afford health insurance.Democrats largely oppose the effort to repeal Obamacare and aren't expected to support the legislation Senate Republicans craft.By Anna Edney and Zachary Tracer of Bloomberg New  Continue reading...

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